University of Surrey students wow judges with BoozyBalls to win Ecotrophelia UK

By William Dodds

- Last updated on GMT

IFST acting chief executive Chris Gilbert-Wood poses with Tom Goble and Hannah Al-Memar from University of Surrey
IFST acting chief executive Chris Gilbert-Wood poses with Tom Goble and Hannah Al-Memar from University of Surrey
A team of students from the University of Surrey have been announced as the winners of Ecotrophelia UK.

The pair, whose alcoholic boba product ‘BoozyBalls’ wowed the panel of expert judges from across the F&B industry, won a £2,000 prize and will now represent the UK at the European finals in Paris on 20-21 October 2024 at food exhibition SIAL.

In Paris, the team will go up against 20 other national winners from across Europe as they compete for a reward of €4,000.

In the 12th​ annual edition of the Dragon’s Den style competition which challenges students to develop innovative and sustainable products​, BoozyBalls beat out teams from Queen’s University Belfast and Nottingham Trent University, who finished second and third respectively, in a fiercely fought event held at Nestlé Confectionery Product Technology Centre in York.

NoDoh from Queen’s University Belfast took home £1,000 for their sustainable cookie dough product, while Marble from Nottingham Trent University won £500 for their oat-based ice cream. Meanwhile, Manchester Metropolitan University secured the Food Safety Prize for the team’s Viennese-style biscuit product called Fidelites.

In addition to the prize money, BoozyBalls earned a year’s free membership to the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) and mentorship from the judges to aid in their preparations for the European final.

Bertrand Emond, membership ambassador, professional development and culture excellence lead at Campden BRI, which organises the UK heat round alongside IFST, said: “The food industry faces fundamental challenges including reducing our environmental impact, meeting growing global demand for food, producing more from less as pressure increases on resources, and reformulating and creating new products to meet diet and health requirements.

“Using science and innovation effectively will be critical to survival and competitive advantage. We must support efforts to unlock, nurture and drive innovation in the industry that helps us to meet these challenges. Ecotrophelia is a fantastic platform and source of innovation and inspiration for the industry capitalising on the creativity and energy of our brightest and most enterprising food students supported by the best academic institutions.”

Chris Gilbert-Wood, acting chief executive of the IFST, also expressed his enthusiasm about the final of this year’s competition: "The Ecotrophelia competition is always one of the highlights of the IFST year, and we are thrilled with the range of entries from across the UK. Food and drink businesses are one of the most consistent innovators in the UK economy; this competition helps to encourage new generations of entrepreneurs into rewarding careers in the food system.”

Dr Veronica Giacintucci, teaching fellow in food science at the University of Surrey, added that the faculty was "beyond proud"​ of the BoozyBalls team.

Giacintucci continued: "The competition featured high-standard products with great market potential, all with a keen eye on sustainability, ranging from milk alternatives to baked goods."

In other news, the British Frozen Food Federation is celebrating 100 years of frozen food in 2024.

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